illustration of a clergyman with Canterbury cathedral behind him

The Canterbury Tales

by Geoffrey Chaucer

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8: The Prioress's Tale Questions and Answers

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Study Questions
1. Who is the central character in the story?

2. What is his special mark of devotion to the Virgin Mary?

3. Why do the Jews in the story hate the boy so much?

4. Describe the grim nature of the boy's murder.

5. What miraculous circumstance attends the finding of the murdered boy?

6. How is the abbot able to release the boy's soul?

7. How do the Catholics interpret the child's amazing singing?

8. How does the modern reader account for the treatment of the Jews in this tale?

9. Why is it appropriate that this tale should be told by the Prioress?

10. What happens to the Jews in the tale?

1. The protagonist is a very young schoolboy.

2. He sings a hymn to the Blessed Virgin.

3. He sings his song each day passing through the Jewish ghetto of the town. They are insulted by the nature of his song.

4. His throat is slit and his body is thrown on a dung heap.

5. When his body is found, the boy is still singing and able to communicate.

6. The Virgin Mary has placed a kernel on the boy's tongue. When
the abbot removes it, the boy's soul is released.

7. The singing represents a miracle.

8. Medieval Catholics despised and mistreated Jews.

9. The Prioress is of an overly sensitive and sentimental nature; the story is very sentimental.

10. The Jews are tortured and killed.

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